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Spiritual Growth

Repetition is Good

By Linda Douglas Smith

Mark 11:1-11 (NRSV)
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” ’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’ They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Yearly, Christians celebrate the seasons of Christmas (Advent, Christmas and Epiphany) and Easter (Lent, Easter and Pentecost). There are some things we need to repeat, like the Christian year, and the repetition is good. The seasons of the Christian year do not change but remind us and help us to remember the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

How many times have we read the Scriptures that tell of Jesus sending two of his disciples into a village to find a colt that had never been ridden and bring it to him? Jesus told the disciples that if anyone asks why you are doing this, just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.” The disciples brought the colt back to Jesus, put their coats on it and Jesus sat on the colt. As Jesus made his way into Jerusalem, riding the colt, the Scriptures remind us of the crowds that were both in front of and behind Jesus shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"

How many times have we heard the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem? Do you ever tire of this story or the other stories found in the Scriptures? And as we enter the sanctuary on Palm Sunday morning, once again, we anticipate and expect to receive a piece of Palm.

For many years my husband and I have attended Bible study. Persons gathered in the church sanctuary, social hall, library, the pastor’s study or in someone’s home. Although the settings may be different, the Scriptures have remained the same. There are no revised or updated Bibles, yes; we have numerous translations and paraphrases of Scripture, but no revisions, no rewrites. The word of God is sure, it is true, and it is up to date, with no changes needed, no additions needed and no deletions needed. The repetition is good.

With each new beginning of Bible study, the participants and the Bible study leader may be different. The experiences through conversation brought to the study by the participants may be new, but the Scriptures remain the same.

Isn’t life repetition? Day after day we may be repeating something, something good or maybe something not so good. But it is beneficial for us to repeat the seasons of the Christian year so we may be reminded of the significance of each season.

Remember Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, preparation and longing for Jesus Christ; Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus; Epiphany is the coming of the Magi to worship the Christ child; Lent is the period of forty days prior to Easter; Easter is celebrating the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead three days after his crucifixion; and Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Once again here we are in the season of Lent, hopefully taking some time for spiritual reflection as Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday draw near. I look forward to attending Good Friday service as I have done for so many years to hear the seven last words of Jesus – forgiveness, pardon, love, loneliness, human need, triumph and reunion. I have heard these words before, but I plan to hear and listen again as the Scriptures are repeated. Perhaps at a different church, seven different reflections from seven different speakers, but the Scriptures will be the same word of God. The repetition is good. What are you repeating? Is the repetition good?

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118:1)

*Linda Douglas Smith is a Deaconess and executive for administration with the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Last Updated: 04/07/2010

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